Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Steve Jobs
Why does it seem that a life-altering event such as the threat of dying is many times the catalyst for change? We don’t often think about it but major changes in life sometimes just smack you in the face with no time to prepare or make any decisions.
You coast through life, never really challenging your beliefs, and then BANG – it happens. Life intervenes and we face new challenges; we become fearful of change. Usually, it’s fear of the unknown or someone’s opinion that’s behind all the panic. The above quote from Steve Jobs jumped out at me when writing this week’s topic.
What if you received the news that you would only have a year or so to live – maybe 5 years at the most? What then? What choices would you make? What dreams would you follow? Would failures matter? So what if you tried something new and looked a bit foolish? Would anyone care in the face of your remaining days?
Jeez – why does it matter so much about everyone’s opinions of us? And why do those around us have to be so blasted judgmental? You can say you don’t give a rat’s backside what other people think but deep down – for many of us – there’s a deep fear of not fitting in.
Really? I think one of the biggest reasons more of us don’t truly listen to what our soul wants is plain old FEAR – fear of failing, fear of criticism, maybe even fear of looking really stupid to our family and friends.
It’s been my dream forever to be a writer and share my heart with readers. It’s okay if you want to snort and laugh hysterically. Who’s to say I won’t have a New York Times bestseller some day? Who??
That’s the whole point of making you think about being fearful or fearless – and overcoming fear.
So, I’m going to share something with you that feels scary. I wrote a book. And a journal. And recorded the book on CD. And then I had an awesome coffee cup made with “LEAP FEARLESSLY” written on it. No really. I did!
This past weekend, I was busy cleaning out my space and getting rid of stuff I don’t use anymore. (I seem to do a lot of that lately.) I came across a box I didn’t recognize and it was full of the recorded version of Find Your Paradigm: The Art of Living With Grace and Ease.
I talked with a friend about what to do with this box full of CD’s that are only taking up space. The advice I got? Keep ’em! He told me that not everyone can say they wrote a book, recorded it and put themselves out there. He said that keeping them would be a reminder of my hard work and belief in myself.
Who knows? Some day, there might be someone who wants to hear the sound of my voice. Lemme tell ya – I got 25 CD’s with my voice on ’em – just for you. Sigh…
By telling you about my sweet little book and journal, I’m trying to say please don’t let fear stop you from putting yourself out there. Don’t let fear stop you from listening to your heart. Please, please, PLEASE don’t let fear of failure or criticism stop you from reaching for the stars!
How did that dream work out? Well, let’s see. I had 100 books, 100 journals and 72 awesome coffee cups printed up because it was the start of my dream 7 years ago. Today, if you come to my aromatherapy studio, you’ll see 80 of the books, 70 of the journals and 40 of the coffee cups ready for anyone who wants to buy them. In the end, that dream didn’t work out.
The lesson from that dream is that even though it all fell flat, I still did it. I still put my heart and soul out to the world knowing there would be haters to blow my doors off. I didn’t let them stop me.
Fearful or Fearless?
What dream would you follow if you knew you couldn’t fail? What dream would you follow if you knew it would come true? At the end of the day, what gets your juices flowing? What dream is so important to you – it’s all you think about – but fear holds you back?
What are you afraid of?
Don’t say you’re not afraid of anything – that’s bulls$%t. I won’t pretend that the big decisions and changes in life aren’t gut-wrenching. They are. Nobody said following your dream would be easy or that you would never be afraid of something. But if you allow fear to rule your decisions, then you lose. Period.
I’m not a fan of public speaking – but I know deep down in my heart that if I want to succeed at aromatherapy – and I do – I have to stand in front of people and let them see my heart and passion. I think I’d rather deliver an elephant than face a room full of people who are waiting for me to say something intelligent.
I’m in a cold sweat just thinking about it.
But it’s part of my dream and if I let what other people think hold me back, then shame on me. It’s important to remember that I’m not facing a firing squad, I’m simply standing in front of people and speaking in the most heartfelt way about my passion for aromatherapy. That’s what has helped me the most.
It’s irritating how people can be so harsh and judgmental – off the cuff – without really knowing who, what or why they are judging. I’ve been at the short end of the harsh judgement stick – sometimes fairly – many times unfairly – and I know what it feels like to be scared, vulnerable, and humiliated in front of people. It’s a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
I said as much to a friend of mine, and she said: “Before you walk into a room, you throw your shoulders back, hold your head up, swagger in and pretend you own the joint. You might be scared, but don’t let anyone see that.”
In a few short words, my friend just told you how to reach your dreams. So did Steve Jobs in his quote above.
I’m fairly certain the Nobel Prize was created when someone mistakenly thought Alfred Nobel had died so his obituary was printed in the newspaper. He saw what was going to be the sum of his life and didn’t like it. He was given a huge gift to change the end result of his life, become the person he wanted to be and leave a lasting legacy. He didn’t let fear of what other people might think hold him back.
I’m trying very hard to do the same thing. Whether you like me and my passion (or not) no longer matters and it’s an amazing level of freedom. What really matters is that I am moving past the fear to put myself out in the world. One day at a time, one step at a time. Each time I reach past the fear, I learn a little bit more about just how strong and determined I am.
For you today, please keep reaching through the fear to live your best life. Tell me how you reached through the fear by leaving a comment below – you’ll be an inspiration today for someone who’s struggling.